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Fountain Named National Higher Education Art Teacher of the Year

March 14, 2016

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The National Art Education Association has named Heather Leah Ryerson Fountain, of Wyomissing, PA, to receive the 2016 National Higher Education Art Educator of the Year Award. This prestigious award, determined through a peer review of nominations, recognizes the exemplary contributions, service, and achievements of one outstanding NAEA member annually at the National level within their division. The award will be presented at the NAEA National Convention in Chicago, IL, March 17-19, 2016. 

NAEA President Patricia Franklin states, "This award is being given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator. Heather Leah Ryerson Fountain exemplifies the highly qualified
art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars, and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession."

Fountain, an associate professor of Art Education and Crafts at Kutztown University, was presented the John P. Schellenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning by the university in 2014.  She has been instrumental in the development of authentic differentiated instruction practices, including publishing a book, Differentiated Instruction in the Arts, and chairing a KU conference for professional learning devoted to disabilities studies and a Pennsylvania Art Education Association Conference on future concerns of visual arts in the schools.  

Fountain has worked tirelessly to connect student learning in and beyond the classroom, seeking new ways to engage students in authentic questioning, processing and engagement.  In addition to partnerships on campus and in the community she has worked to integrate digital technology in her classroom and to enable students to engage with others through service learning.  Some of the groups with which she has partnered include Kutztown Middle School, the Reifton School, Schuylkill Valley Middle School, Special Education Department of the Kutztown Area School District, Read 180 Program, the Best Buddies Program and the KU Phoenix Group.

Fountain's use of digital technology takes many forms such as Skype and Facetime visits by authors, experts, and guest speakers, the use of apps and free websites to create animation, videos, photo editing, video game design, adaptive art media for students on the autism spectrum, and digital assessment tools.

Fountain has received state and national recognition for her work on differentiated instruction in art.  She received the Pennsylvania Special Needs Art Educator of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association's Council for Exceptional Children, Peter J. Geisser Special Needs Art Educator Award.

NAEA is the professional association for art educators. Members include elementary, secondary, middle level and high school art teachers; university and college professors; education directors who oversee education in our nation's fine art
museums, administrators and supervisors who oversee art education in school districts, state departments of education, arts councils; and teaching artists throughout the United States and many foreign countries. 

For more information about the association and its awards program visit the NAEA website at www.arteducators.org